Cowboying at Willow Spring (PCT mi 620.0), walked 23.7 miles today
Woke up at 6, got going by 6:30, by 8 I was at the spring and to my surprise there were about 10 people there still breaking camp, all of them thru-hikers, all friendly and social, none of whom I'd ever seen before. Talked with them a bit, picked up a few liters of cold clear delicious water coming out at 1 gallon/minute, left for the next water 7 miles away. Drank almost 3 liters in those 7 miles, which were super mild and easy. We really were in pine forest, as we'd sensed last night. The temps were cooler, maybe around 70, because of the highish elevation, 6000 feet ... a pretty glorious morning of walking, all things considered.
Chilled with the new crowd at the next water, a lot of funny people, all of them seemingly pretty confident hikers ... the scene I'd kind of been missing out on so far. Most of them had been at Kickoff. Rainmaker, Ryan, Explagrance, Simba, Double Sprainbow, Cookie Monster, Steamer and Rubadub some of the names I remember. Siesta also walked up separately, I had figured she was light years ahead but she had stopped for a day with her mom around Tehachapi, plus I've gained on everyone who didn't skip 60 miles from the fire closure. Happy, funny good times all around for those two or so hours.
Made a plan to go kind of far off trail for water here, which was 12 miles ahead at that point, rather than load up all my water capacity and try to get 40 miles out of it with help from the dubiuosly reliable caches. When you're on a road trip, there's no way in hell you're exiting for fuel if you can't see the gas station from the interstate ... Likewise, no hiker ever wants to go more than about a third of a mile off-trail for water. This was at least 1.2 off, though I'm going to make a loop back to the PCT itomorrow morning to save time. The side trail to get here was a gully ... in the narrowest part of it a rattlesnake decided to get really pissed and have a standoff with me. Dashed by after about 3 minutes of back-and-forth and a lot of rattling.
Extremely tired because my body was just getting used to a siesta schedule and then I said eff it and hiked through the afternoon today. Looking at maybe 30 to good water tomorrow, depending on the status of the cache after 10 miles.